April 10, 2018
During the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days annual meeting held on April 4 at the Pyle Center at University of Wisconsin-Madison, John Shutske, who serves as WFTD board chairman, announced the WFTD board of directors were talking to the coordinators of the Iola Old Car Show about hosting the event on its grounds in Waupaca County in 2021.
“This is by no means a done deal,” Shutske said. “However, we are exploring the possibility of a pilot project with the Iola Old Car Show about hosting Farm Tech Days in 2021.”
The WFTD board plans to attend the Iola Old Car Show in July and evaluate how the event is managed. “Our board will then convene this October and decide if this is what we want to do,” Shutske said.
He said it is getting more difficult to find counties to host the show, due in part to the budget cuts to UW-Extension and the tight ag economy.
“We’re also looking at the future of Extension, and the health and future of Wisconsin’s agriculture economy,” Shutske said. He noted, “There is no Plan B at this time.”
At the meeting, each county hosting a show reported on the progress being made.
The 2017 Farm Technology Days was held July 11-13 in Kewaunee County at the Randy and Renee Ebert Farm near Kewaunee. This was the first time Kewaunee County had hosted a show.
Aerica Bjurstrom, Kewaunee County Extension agriculture agent, reported that “it was definitely worth hosting the show.” She said 1,900 people volunteered at the show which is close to 10% of the county’s population.
Amber Hewett, 2017 WFTD Executive Committee chairwoman, said, “Passion for agriculture made our show a success.” Hewett believes the 2017 show was successful because:
• Communication was open throughout the planning of the show and during the show.
• The committee did not micromanage except for the budget.
• The executive committee trusted its subcommittees.
• They thought outside the box and took a chance.
“We have already given back $104,000 to our community — the nonprofits and we still have six figures to give out,” Hewett said. “Twenty-five percent of the money will go to scholarships. The money will fund six scholarships for 10 years.”
The 2018 show
The 2018 Farm Tech Days will be hosted by Wood County July 10-12 at the D&B Sternweis Farms, Weber’s Farm Store and Heiman Holsteins, all located just west of Marshfield. The Sternweises, who milk 400 cows, will feature their new 40-cow rotary parlor at the show.
Located in the center of the state, Wood County previously hosted the show in 1960. Matt Lippert, Wood County Extension agriculture agent, said the executive committee has been busy planning the show for the past two years.
Dennis Bangart, United FCS loan officer and executive chairman of the 2018 show, said, “We have a lot of pride in our county, and we are excited about hosting the show.”
In addition to showcasing dairy and livestock farming in the county, the executive committee also plans to focus on the cranberry industry, which represents a major portion of Wood County’s agriculture. Wisconsin is the No. 1 cranberry-producing state in the nation. “One out of nine cranberries grown in the U.S. is produced in Wood County,” Bangart said.
Bangart noted that Marshfield Clinic will conduct at least six different health screenings during the show, including screenings for skin cancer, blood pressure and diabetes.
The 2019 show will be hosted by Jefferson County July 23-25 at the Mike and Sarah Walter farm near Grellton. The family grows corn, soybeans, winter wheat and alfalfa on more than 6,000 acres.
This will be the third time Jefferson County has hosted Farm Tech Days. Craig and Laura Beane joined the Bill Ward family to host the show in 1956. Bernard and Beverly Walter, Mike Walter’s parents, hosted in 1984.
The 2020 show will be held in Eau Claire County. This is the second time Eau Claire County has hosted; the first time was in 1992. Mark Hagedorn, Eau Claire County Extension dairy and livestock agent, said the show will be held at Hunzinger Farms near Eau Claire.
“The Hunzingers farm 5,500 acres, including 700 acres of horseradish, which makes them the largest horseradish farm in the U.S.,” Hagedorn said.
Bob Panzer, vice president of the Eau Claire County Farm Tech Days Executive Committee, said 42% of all horseradish sold in the U.S. comes from Eau Claire County. Panzer also reported that the executive committee for the 2020 show is in place.
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